Kellen Theriot and Carneal Ainsworth were both absent this afternoon. Barkevious Mingo and Stefoin Francois both returned to practice today after missing Saturday. Cordian Hagans also returned to the field this afternoon in a green non-contact jersey. And with Dominique Allen moving up to the practice with the older players this morning, Richard Dugas was at the afternoon session.
There were stations set up for the defense to go through this afternoon just as there was this morning. The stations were all designed to work tackling form in one way or another. The main attraction of these stations was the same one that we described this morning with the medicine balls and tackling dummies, and as each group went through it was obvious that the players were relishing the opportunity to finally take out some aggression on something.
Coach Chavis, Coach Cooper, Coach Haley, and Coach Robinson each ran one of the stations, with Coach Robinson running the one with the tackling dummy. He wanted the players to focus on staying low and keeping their heads up while approaching the pad, and then hooking the pad with one arm and rolling over it to make sure the would-be ball carrier couldn’t squirm away.
Most of the players didn’t have much trouble with the drill, although a few were corrected for going in too high or not rolling over the ball carrier. On his first rep at the station, Tahj Jones went in so high that he overshot the landing pad completely and landed on the turf instead.
The tight ends again spent most of practice working on their one-on-one blocking while the offensive line worked mostly on zone blocking.
With Greg Shaw practicing this morning, Clay Spencer now lined up at left tackle, followed by walk on Ben Domingue, PJ Lonergan, Josh Williford, and Matt Branch. Stavion Lowe rotated with Branch at right tackle, and Cordian Hagans rotated with Domingue at left guard.
The quarterbacks and receivers worked mostly on underneath crossing routes again. Chris Garrett continues to look very sharp in these drills, while Russell Shepard continues to struggle finding consistency in his release point. John Williams and Reuben Randle were again the only two scholarship receivers at practice. Randle seemed to have a little more pep in his step today going through drills, and he did a better job of catching the ball with his hands away from his body.
The running backs went through the footwork drills like usual this afternoon, except with a slight twist. To make sure the players were keeping their heads and eyes up the field as they were running, Coach Porter stood at the end of each drill holding up fingers, and the player had to count out how many fingers he was holding up as he went through the drill.
Toward the end of the final period, the running backs and linebackers lined up to go one on one against each other in an enclosed cone area. On the first rep, Stevan Ridley took the ball and set up Ace Foyil perfectly before spinning away from him and going by nearly untouched. Naturally, Foyil felt the wrath of Coach Chavis after that.
Next up was Drayton Calhoun against Kevin Minter. Calhoun took the ball and sprinted sideways immediately before turning up field well beyond the cone boundary. Coach Porter jumped on Calhoun for not following the rules of the drill.
The last matchup we got to see was Michael Ford against walk on Seth Fruge. Ford took the ball and ran straight at Fruge in an attempt to run him over, but Fruge was able to stop Ford in his tracks and get him off balance enough to push him to the ground.
That’s all for today’s practice. We’ll be back later this evening with more coverage.